I, In Forage Of, We !

Photo by R Andagere

Vikramshila express was standing at Jamalpur station. Six year old boy, Girdhari was looking out. A man with Iktara (one stringed musical instrument) stood in front of Girdhari and started singing, Jodi tor daak shune keu naa aashe, Tobe ekla chalo re, Ekla chalo re, Tobe ekla chalo re… Girdhari felt immersed in the beautiful Bangla song. Bhaiya told Girdhari, this famous song has been written by our Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore. Jodi tor daak shune keu naa aashe, Tobe ekla chalo re means if they answer not to your call, walk alone. Girdhari wondered, who were these people who walked alone and most important, why did they walk alone ? These and some other questions were answered in detail to Maverick Yogi by another maverick who took almost 730 days to cover approximately 9,000 kilo metres from Melbourne (Australia) to Bangalore (India) on his motorcycle ! Pleased to introduce, dear reader, the audacious, the unpredictable and the daredevil himself who is here to share his impossible story of voyage – Raj Andagere !

Photo by R Andagere

Launch-Pad : Raj speaks softly as he goes down memory lane. I grew up in a village, went to a Kannada medium school. I was very quiet, observant and a very obedient kid.  Our school principal, Reshma Madam was very, very open minded and forward thinking. She is a very influential person in my life. 

Videsh Calling : I joined a Polytechnic institute after tenth class. Here, I discovered design and architecture. Then I did a diploma in design. I saw an ad for, study in Australia. And I appeared for the test. I got selected in my second attempt. I studied architecture from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia.  

Photo by R Andagere

Architecture really : There are two very clear kinds of architecture being practised today. One is, here I am, I am who I am. The other one is, I am here but you can’t tell me where I am because I am a nobody. I am more interested in the second part of it.    

Photo by R Andagere

Why Me : It all began with the idea of seeing the Australian desert. The oldest civilisation lived in Australia. Sometimes you have to think something really big even if it might appear as bizarre. It could be way out of your thought, pocket, physical capacity. But that’s what brings you alive. I thought, may be I can ride back to India !

SNAFU Tale : I bought a brand new Honda motor cycle for the road trip. It was unregistered without any insurance as I had hardly any money left. In the morning, I opened my back door with my coffee… And whoosh… The bike was gone… stolen ! My ten thousand dollars disappeared with the bike into thin air !    

Biker’s Take : After a couple of months I put together three and a half thousand dollars and bought a second hand similar model bike from a farm. This bike was in a really really bad condition. The biking experience is not so much about the bike. Its about you and your journey. You should continue your journey, no matter what. 

Video Copyright Owner – R Andagere

The Phoenix Guy : I had lots of experiences. I had accidents. I was homeless. I was found on road, half unconscious. I walked into people’s houses looking for work. We have this notion that outside world is scarier, dangerous. It is not. 

Photo by R Andagere

Tip for Bikers : Don’t buy the most expensive bike; buy something small, something economical which can be fixed anywhere. Go, get a simple bike, quieter bike, lighter bike which is cheap to run !

Photo by R Andagere

Road Trip Partners : I told myself its gonna be my journey and its gonna be my experience. I could cook, I could sleep and I could change clothes. I had some repair kits, maps, electronic things, a camera, a GoPro, tent, some ration and a small pressure cooker as company.  

Biker versus Architect : It really gave me an insight into different parts of the world. I saw and felt how people lived in different climatic conditions, places, cultures, religions. 

Photo by R Andagere

The Proposal : Raj smiles when he shares this incident. I was travelling in Malaysia. I stopped for meal at a small roadside restaurant. The attractive lady, owner of the restaurant in her twenties, sat next to me while I was eating. She asked me in her broken English, where you from ? I said, Australia. Our chat continued for a while. You married ? No. You have children ? No. Show me passport. I complied. She looked pleased, oh Australian, yeah. She looked deep into my eyes, you look Malaysian but you are Australian ! I asked her, how much for the meal. She said, no money, no money, you marry me first ! I left money on the table, ran towards my bike and and moved away.


Video Copyright Owner – R Andagere

Raj on different Cultures :  

Australia – Australia is a funny country. It is very young. At the same time time it has world’s oldest civilisation. There you are travelling and meeting people. People don’t ask, where you from and what you are. 

Indonesia – Indonesian people are innocent, modest, helping, always smiling  and very open minded. Indonesians value their history. 

Photo by R Andagere

Singapore – Entry into Singapore was a mammoth hassle. You need to have all the proper documents before you step on its soil. 

Photo by R Andagere

Malaysia – Malaysia is destroying its history. They are trying to erase their history. They are making all efforts to project they are different. In Malaysia palm trees are replacing wilderness. I saw big bulldozers uprooting the trees in forests. It was a sad sight. 

Thailand – Beautiful country, beautiful people. 

Vietnam – Lovely people, rich history, rich culture. 

Cambodia – Its an interesting country. Enjoyed my time there. 

Laos – Its a poor version of China. Lovely people, unbelievable scenery. 

Myanmar – Its like India was 40 years ago. Amazingly generous people. Everywhere it has two roads, one for the cars and the second one for bullock carts !

Photo by R Andagere

Bangladesh – It is wow, funny, hilarious and a very, very promising and young country.  

Moment of Pride – From Bangladesh when I crossed the border post into India, I saw the Tiranga (Indian flag) and I started crying. The Indian security personnel were so proud of me. They took me to their general. They treated me like a rockstar.  

Rise, Fall and Rise : Raj recalls, I was travelling in a small island in a remote part of Indonesia, underdeveloped, no hospitals. Local residents were descendants of the Portuguese. I had a real nasty fall on the road. I broke my rib cage, had head injuries. A Shaman was called from another island because he could speak some English. Next morning when I woke up, I was surrounded by men, women and children. They put one baby in my lap. The photo session began. Then another baby and so it went on. I was shocked with all the attention. Then the English speaking Shaman revealed to me, you look Jesus, you look Jesus !    

Photo by R Andagere

NRI working in Swades : When I came back to India, I had to actually unlearn what I learnt abroad. It was really tough. I lived with my brother, Ajith (acclaimed architect) for sometime. This phase of transition helped me a lot. Currently, I’m working on a couple of projects in Auroville (Pondichery). I am in a very happy state now. 

Raj Andagere

Contact Details of Raj Andagere :

E-Mail : Arkituct@gmail.com

Raj, very succintly adds more to his road trip insight. He says, I never knew I could overcome challenges. I started to learn more about myself. The real search was for, who am I ? What am I made of ? And this realisation hit me hard. We need to get beyond our obsession with ourselves. People are always concentrating on what I want, what I should look for. You never say I, you should always say we. Dear reader, eminent lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri wrote this famous sher (Urdu couplet), Main Akela Hi Chala Tha Jaanib-E-Manzil Magar, Log Saath Aate Gaye Aur Kaarvan Banta Gaya. It means, I set off alone towards my goal, but, people came along and it began to turn into a caravan !

Photo by R Andagere

Yoga Guru # Yogini

Photo by Sacha Styles on Unsplash

Cool breeze was blowing at the riverbank. River Ganga looked so still and beautiful. The big name plate read, Bihar School of Yoga, Munger. Kid Girdhari and his adult uncle, Ramlochan walked inside the sprawling complex. The hall for meditation was quite big. Lots of people were moving around in saffron robes. The whole place was still and serene. Girdhari asked Ramlochan, Chacha, ye log kya karte hain (uncle, what do they do) ? Ramlochan replied, yogi hain, yog karte hain (these are yogis doing yoga) ? Chacha, kya aap yogi hain (uncle, are you a yogi), Girdhari asked. Ramlochan said, nahin (No) ! Who is a true Yogi and some other insight were disclosed to Girdhari several years later. Presenting to you, dear reader, globally renowned Yoga Guru, Life Change Coach and successful entrepreneur, Andrea Drottholm !

Andrea explains the meaning of her lovely name. Andrea is derived from Greek language. It means a ‘strong man’. I’m the feminine counterpart so ‘strong woman’ for me. Strong and brave. 

Photo by Peter Drottholm

Andrea had a liberal childhood. As she says, I was born in Sweden to an immigrant family. Both my parents are Hungarians. I lived for seven years in the suburbs of Gothenburg. After that we moved to a deep forest of Sweden. I was a very adventurous kid. I could not stay indoors for long. My parents were workers in a factory. My mother worked in many many different trades. The last job that she did was that of a public bus driver. I lived in Sweden till I was 19.   

Family as first school : My mother was very intuitive. I got a lot of freedom from my parents. They allowed me to be who I was. I was allowed to spread my wings. I am very, very grateful for that. 

Photo by filipaveigayoga

Yoga for everybody : Yoga is good when it comes to maintaining our health. Yoga helps you to become more independent, more self assured, free thinker. It helps a lot if one is willing to explore other areas of Yoga besides asanas.  

Life Coach : A life coach, together with the client, either in person or online, works on tools that support finding new functional ways to achieving goals and creating constructive change. Life change is a process of clarification, inspiring one to create more meaning in life and follow one’s passion.

Who am I : – First and foremost, I’m a Yoga teacher. But I like to be diverse. I’m a life change coach. I’m a designer. I’m an entrepreneur as I have a Yoga retreat centre. 

Ashtanga Yoga : Ashtanga Yoga is very dynamic. It naturally attracts lots of ambitious people. Also people who are physically driven. Like I was always very active with sports and dance. So I wanted to find something that allowed me to remain active along with stillness.  

Photo by Paumarchant_photo

In quest of :  I am curious by birth. I’ve always been drawn to people, learning about people. I travel the world and meet lots of people. I learn about diversities, languages, cultures, environment.    

Kundalini awakened :  I have met people who have their Kundalini awakened in a sense of becoming more in tune with their psyche. By Kundalini awakened, I mean pure and enlightened ones. Once enlightened, always enlightened !

True Yogi : A true Yogi is someone who is always searching, always on the path, on never ending learning and growing, feeling humble at that. A true Yogi is compassionate. 

Photo by Jeanne Welsh (junglejeanne_)

Andrea on various Cultures : Sweden – Sweden is a socialist country. Its very conforming. They obey very easily. They live in a very organised way. They are very practical, clean, proper and easy going people. No drama. They are very nature oriented, conscious about the nature. 

Hungary – I have spent my summers there. The Hungarians are very proud people, very cultured. They love their art, their books, theatre, everything related to culture. They like to complain, though. Hungary’s architecture is superb. These people are very strong in music. The Gypsy culture is alive.   

Spain – Spain is my favourite country. I love Spanish. Its very much alive, very vibrant. They love their parties, coming together like the Indians. They love to dance, drink their wine and stay up late nights. They love the drama.     

Indonesia – The Indonesians are very sweet, always smiling, kind and warm people. They are very welcoming towards the foreigners. They usually don’t speak up. If they are upset about something they won’t tell you. They are very artistic people, very detailed in their art. 

Photo by damien de Bastier (yogadamien)

India – India is very vibrant. There is so much flowing in India with so many colours, smells, sights and sounds. Many times I would ponder on something in my head. All of a sudden someone would say something like an answer to what I was thinking about. That happened to me over and over again in India. I always leave India with full of love. 

Andrea’s Favourites Sutra :

Favourite Colours : All the natural colours. Anything that comes from natural plants, nature itself. 

Favourite Season : Here, in Bali, there are only two seasons, rainy and hot season. When I lived in Sweden, spring was my favourite season.

Favourite Hobbies : Photography – I like to go out and take photos / Explorer – I like to explore places where I have never been before /Jewellery Design /  Meditation 

Photo by Luisquilho

Favourite Singers : I’m a big fan of Aretha Franklin and Gregory Porter.

Favourite Movie : Le Grand Bleu (French) / The Big Blue (English) – Its a real story about a sea diver. Its beautiful combination of the story, music, acting and cinematography. 

Favourite Cuisine : Mediterranean food – Its not too heavy / Japanese Food / Indian Food – Palak Paneer, Dosas

Favourite Quote : A ship is safe in harbour, but that is not what ships were made for – John A. Shedd

Favourite Authors : Paulo Coelho – I like the messages in his books. Another favourite is Leo Buscaglia – He is quite famous as Dr. Love ! 

Favourite Destinations : Bali (Indonesia) – I love living here / India

Photo by yogadamien

Favourite Natural Surrounding : Beaches, mountains, forests, rivers, waterfalls !

Favourite Yoga Teachers : Sharath Jois, Matthew Sweeney, Nick Evans

Andrea with Sharath Jois

Favourite Mantra : Aaditya Hridaya Strotam – I’m a Sun worshipper ! 

Ubuntu Bali in future : The plan to open another Yoga retreat is in motion. This one will be more community based and with more sewa (service). The idea is to bring more focus into togetherness. How we are with each other. The plan is to collaborate with charities, foundations etc. 

Ubuntu Bali Yoga Centre (Indonesia)
Rishikesh (India) Photo by Akash Choudhary on Unsplash

Funnily bizarre : We were in Rishikesh (India) and about to fly back to Indonesia. I had to take a Covid Test. I was in the hotel and for ten minutes I was talking to this civilian. And all of a sudden he jumps into this PPE suit that they all have to wear. I asked, what are you doing. He said, oh, I’m doing Covid Test. And then he shoves this thing inside my nose for minutes as if to clean or something !

Andrea Drottholm Photo by Jenya_Kadnikova (on Instagram)

Contact Details of Andrea Drottholm :

Website : www.andreadrottholm.com

www.ubuntubali.com (not online yet.. but soon)

www.samadiwear.com

FaceBook : https://www.facebook.com/andrea.drottholm/

Instagram: @andreacanggu

@samadiwear

@ubuntubali

Andrea Drottholm believes, dear reader, one should practice Yoga for the betterment of one’s whole being. Maverick Yogi remembers an old incident, vividly. Girdhari and his friend, Vikram, both in their twenties were seated in a night service bus while travelling from Kathmandu to Beergunj in Nepal. Vikram took out a cigarette from his packet of Surya cigarettes and started smoking. At Kalimati curve the bus stopped. A monk in saffron robes climbed in. The monk was standing next to Girdhari. Girdhari got up and made the monk sit on his seat. The monk asked Vikram, why are you smoking ? Vikram replied, yunhe (just like that). The monk laughed aloud. Girdhari asked the monk, are you a Yogi, Swamiji ? Swamiji laughed and said, Bhai (brother), all human beings are born as Yogis when they are infants ! As adults when they start eating and drinking more than what their body needs, they become Bhogis (gluttons) ! And if they continue being Bhogis for years and decades they finally end up as Rogis (ailing) ! Vikram chucked his half smoked cigarette out of the window while Girdhari and Swamiji resumed their midnight conversation on healthy mind and healthy body. 

Bali (Indonesia) Photo by Cassie Gallegos on Unsplash

The One Who Is Riding A Chariot !

Karndhaar Photo by Mukul Ranjan

My journey as a blogger started last year during Corona pandemic on 9th July, 2020 with my first blog, What’s In A Name ? It got tremendous response, far surpassing my own modest expectation. That post was essentially about how I named my baby boy, Karndhaar. This blog will try to answer the question about why I named him Karndhaar. There have been two types of queries on this name. My son’s doctors, his school’s principal, his friends’ parents, airline executives handling boarding passes, BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) officials, my wife’s friends and some of my dearest friends have asked the meaning of Karndhaar. That’s simple to explain. And then, some other friends have asked, why the name Karndhaar ? Hey, wait a sec, I’m jumping the gun. Lemme begin with first ball, first. A dear friend of mine suggested the name, Aarav for my infant. That’s easy to understand. Since the time a Hindi film actor named his son, Aarav, a certain percentage of newly born male children in India have been named Aarav ! But more fascinating was a name suggested by another dear friend of mine. Hear this, dear reader, Kapur Shakti (Camphor Power) was the name suggested by him for our infant ! Go, figure it out for yourself, guys !       

Photo by Alireza Sahebi on Unsplash

Dear reader, you must have heard the name, Karn. He is probably the most famous character from, Mahabharat, known all around the globe ! He is also known as Vasusen, Raadhey, Suryaputra, Angraaj, Daanveer amongst several others names. I read first about him in Amar Chitra Katha. Later I read several versions of Mahabharat, Shivaji Sawant’s novel, Mrityunjay and Ramdhari Singh Dinkar’s long poem, Rasmirathi. All these books are based on the one and only, Karn. I feel fortunate to be connected to the word, Karn in two ways. One is ancient history and the second is early medieval history. 

Photo by Jyoti Singh on Unsplash

In India’s ancient history, incidents depicted in Mahabharat took place approximately around 5,000 years back. Prince Duryodhan appointed Karn as King of Ang state. So, the name, Angraaj Karn. Ang state of Mahabharat age is currently Bhagalpur-Munger zone in Bihar. The dialect spoken by the people in this area is Angika. Plus, in 1964-65 the creator of Rashmirathi, the famous poet Ramdhari Singh Dinkar was Vice Chancellor of the, then Bhagalpur University. In fact, there is a mohalla (locality) in Champanagar (ancient Champa) near Bhagalpur called Karngarh. When I visited Gurgaon in Haryana for the first time, I desperately wished to go to Karnal. During Kurukshetra war in Mahabharat, it is believed, today’s Karnal is the place which then, was the camp of mighty Karn and his army from Ang. Yours truly, dear reader, studied in C M S High School and T N B College in Bhagalpur, Bihar !    

Vikramshila Setu, Bhagalpur Photo by Vineesh PB on Unsplash

Let’s enter early medieval history of India, now. In the south of Vindhyas, around mid 11th century AD, a famous emperor Someshvara 1 of western Chalukya empire was ruling in today’s Karnataka. Under the brilliant leadership of his son, prince Vikramaditya VI (next Chalukyan emperor), the unbeatable army from Karnataka successfully defeated the kingdoms of Kanyakubj, Kashi, Mithila, Magadh, Ang, Vang, Gaud and Nepal. Several Chalukyan military commanders were stationed permanently to take care of these newly won territories. Three Chalukyan military commanders of emperor Vikramaditya VI had different plans, altogether. In 1069 AD, Samant Sen set up Sen empire in Vang (capital at today’s Bikrampur near Dhaka, Bangladesh). Chandradev established Gahadvala empire in 1089 AD in Kanyakubj (capital at today’s Varanasi). And in July, 1097 AD, Nanyuppa (later called Nanyadev) founded Karnata empire in Mithila (capital at today’s Simroungarh, Nepal). By 1099 AD, king Nanyadev and his prime minister, Shridhardas Thakkur had brought 63 families consisting of their relatives from Kalyani (today’s Basavakalyan in Karnataka’s Bidar district) and Manyakheta (today’s Malkheda in Karnataka’s Gulbarga district) in three tranches to Mithila (present north Bihar and Nepal Tarai). So, my forefather was either from Malkheda or from Basavakalyan, for sure, in Karnataka. This whole community called itself Karnata Kayasth for a long time which later got shortened to Karn Kayasth.  

Photo by Jayesh Patil on Unsplash

I was fascinated with the name, Karn from time immemorial. But I didn’t want to name my baby, Karn for obvious reasons. Due to my Karnata ancestry, oops, Karn to be precise, I wanted the name to begin with Karn. Some names came to my mind, such as Karnam, Karnik, Karana, Karneegar, Karnaat, Karan but these are mostly used as surnames by people and communities in several states of India. So finally, I named him Karndhaar. My Bengali friends lovingly call him, Korno ! That’s okay. My friends from Punjab pronounce it as Karandhaar. Okay again. My bestie, Vishwapriay has shortened it to KD. Perfectly okay. My friends from mass media address him as Karan, okay fine again, pals ! A friend of mine from Karnataka told me Karndhaar means ‘Captain’ in Kannada language. Hey listen, I’m no expert on Kannada language, my Kannadiga friends can add more to this. To the best of my knowledge, Karndhaar means saviour, pilot, commander amongst several other meanings. In fact, after understanding the meaning, the BMC official who headed birth certificate division asked me if he can name his four days old grandson, Karndhaar ? That was a pleasant surprise, sweet. But to his parents, Karndhaar only means pure innocent love. Here is, dear reader, Karndhaar along with Maverick Yogi, wishing you a great and scintillating new year, 2021 !  

P.S : I owe it to you, Nalini Ashwin.

Karndhaar Photo by Pratyush Ranjan

She

Photo by Ayo Ogunseinde on Unsplash

All That She Wants was playing on the heavy speakers. The whole pub was filled with smoke. This number by Ace of Base was the current chartbuster. The crowd inside On Toes, a pub at Juhu was mixed. There were some struggling actresses, hot models, young men with their bodies sculpted in gymnasiums and some Hindi film producers and directors. The party had been thrown by a fledgeling actor, Amitanshu Anupam. The host was on the dance floor with his steady date. His friends were also dancing there. They had stopped dancing. Something was odd. She turned to leave when Amitanshu held her arm, forcibly. He screamed at her, shove that contract up your _____ , you bitch ! She held her tears and started running towards the door. Some hanger ons came forward to block her way but one glance from Amitanshu and they went back.

She smiled at the security guard. He saluted her for no reason. Pandit Bhimsen Joshi’s voice was wafting in the air. She looked pleased. She got down from her car and walked towards Nirvaan, a bungalow in Bandra’s Pali Hill. She looked at the motley crowd around the lawn and garden. The assistant directors, production guys, copywriters and others were busy with their drinks, smoking, food and conversation. There was no sign of him. She walked towards the big S H Raza wall hanging. Robert Dutt, the famous ad film maker was rolling a joint for himself sitting under the wall hanging. His glass of red wine was there. Her steps picked up pace. She hugged Robert and said, Happy birthday, my Dutt ! He preened with smile, you’re never late, Aana !  

Girdhari and Robert Dutt were sitting in his study, deeply engrossed in their topic. She walked in with a glass of guava juice. Robert introduced them, Girdhari, meet Aana. Aana, meet Girdhari. Girdhari was looking at the script in his hand. He said, namaste Aana ! She looked hurt, hi Girdhari, I’m standing here, not in that script. Girdhari looked closely at her. She was wearing a white silk salwar set with orange polka dots on them. He had to agree, Robert indeed had great taste. She asked him, kuch lenge aap (would you like to have something) ? Girdhari said, nahin shukriya (no thanks). Robert got up to leave. He said, Girdhari, you hand this script personally to the star, okay ?  

Girdhari was plonked on the familiar plush sofa. Yummy it is but the taste is a little different, Girdhari said while taking a bite from Paneer Dosa. Amitanshu laughed, taste is new because the cook is new. Mika got a new cook for me. Mika, who is that, asked Girdhari. A wave of nice perfume came closer. Hi Girdhari, I’m Mika, she said. Girdhari’s head spun a full 360 degrees when he looked at her. Aana was wearing a blue floral skirt on top of a white T shirt. Namaste Mika, Girdhari was unsure of what to say more. She did an impromptu mwah mwah with Girdhari. He recoiled and shivered. Amitanshu said, Robert Dutt has sent me a script. Girdhari, read it and let me know, okay ? Mika adjusted her T shirt and smiled at him, You have to read it, baby ! Girdhari himself has written the script !  

She was a jigsaw puzzle for Robert and Amitanshu’s inner circle. In mornings as Aana she was with Robert Dutt, his muse for life. A very homely Indian girl, steeped in traditions and fond of ethnic wear. He loved her company. Everybody thought she was the right girl for the bohemian Robert. But Girdhari thought differently. Aana turned into Mika in the evenings, for Amitanshu. A wild flower child, out to seduce this world with her low cut, hot outfits and ultra modern approach. The rising star thought Mika was sculpted by the higher ups only for him. And yet, she was beholden neither by Amitanshu, nor by Robert.

Tomay Hrid Majhare Raakhbo, Chhede Debo Naa (I’ll keep you locked inside my heart, dearest, won’t let you go away) was playing on the record player. Baul Samrat, Purno Das had blessed me on stage when we were living in a tea estate near Kalimpong. I was eight years old then. Purno Dasji’s voice still engulfs me with magic, Girdhari. I have lived at different places. From Kalimpong to Munger, then to Vidisha and finally, Bombay, she said in her slurred speech and in a state of trance. She was looking alluring in a white jute shirt and a long Khadi skirt. In one hand she was holding her glass of white rum while in the other, chaandi ke paayal (a pair of silver anklets). Girdhari finished half bottle of water and asked, who is the real you, Mika or Aana ? All of a sudden she put her right ankle on his left shoulder and said in a husky voice, tie this anklet, Girdhari. A payal fell into Girdhari’s lap. A perplexed Girdhari said, back off woman, will you ? She threw her glass of rum on the floor in great fury. The shattered glass pieces went to all sides of the living room. She caressed his cheek and said, all that Anamika needs is respect and dignity, damn it ! Is it too much to ask for ? Girdhari looked uncomfortable. She gradually pulled up her skirt till her knee and repeated her request, tie this anklet, Girdhari. Girdhari jumped up from the sofa. He ran towards the door screaming, take full charge of your directionless adrift ship as I’m nobody’s plaything, Anamika !

Mr. Golat

The worn out tin box was lying open on the cot, as earlier. He was lying on the cot with his pair of red socks on, as usual, reading his scrap book. Girdhari flew into rage and rushed towards the courtyard. Mom was not there. This was not done, thought Girdhari. He threw his school bag at the house help, Jeebu. Why are you throwing stones on a dead elephant, snapped Jeebu. What is he doing on my cot, asked Girdhari. Go, ask him, replied Jeebu. Somebody tapped on Girdhari’s shoulder. A fistful of khatthe-meethe (sweet n sour) toffees were on offer for Girdhari. He refused as he seemed to be unhappy about his arrival. Girdhari ran away from there. Golat Babu, chai ki jalkhayi (Mr. Golat, tea or snacks), asked Jeebu. Bhojan karab (I prefer lunch), replied Golat Babu.

Golat Babu was a mystery, dear reader, to this whole world. His real name was Durvasa Narayan Chowdhary but few were aware of it. He was related to every prominent person of the society, according to himself. Although he was a resident of Kolhabi (Nepal) but for all practical purposes he used to spend most of his time in different cities of Bihar like Patna, Bhagalpur, Ranchi (in Jharkhand now), Darbhanga, Bokaro (in Jharkhand now), Madhubani, Jamshedpur (in Jharkhand now) , Muzaffarpur, etc. He was a science graduate with B Ed degree as topping but volunteered to remain unemployed. His wife and two kids lived in Kolhabi. His wife supported her family by stitching clothes at home. And her brother was taking care of the two kids schooling. This time Golat Babu had met Dad in a village wedding. And Dad brought him here with himself.   

Dinner was being served. Mom was serving extra Chapati to Golat Babu. She gave him Daal and Bhurta next. He was enjoying the meal. Naani, (grandma) the food is really delicious, he said. Yau Golat Babu, asthir saan khaayeb, aatta saanaye chhi hum (Eat slowly, Golat Babu, I’m kneading the dough for you), Jeebu said aloud from the kitchen. Do you take any medicines, asked Dad. Golat Babu replied, no Baba, no, I eat so much extra only to digest the food ! How many days you plan to stay here, asked Bhaiya, immediately regretting his question. Golat Babu smiled, don’t worry, I’ll leave before your exams begin. 

Golat Babu was a vagabond, budget less traveller. In fact, he travelled without money. He would go to another city and be a guest of some gentleman for some days or a fortnight at the maximum. But, uncharacteristically on every visit, he would make Girdhari’s cot his home for several months. In the evenings, he would throw cricket balls at Girdhari who would hit them back to the boundary. Every morning, he would pluck fresh flowers in the phooldaali (flower basket) from Thakurbari (God’s abode) garden for Mom’s daily puja, notwithstanding her protests. He would accompany Jeebu to the flour mill with bags of wheat. And he would make Jeebu pay for his Paan. And Golat Babu would also get Dad’s scooter’s flat tyre mended.  

That night there was a feast in the house. Dear reader, you guessed it right, Golat Babu ate to his heart’s content. If he had four servings of Poori he had four servings of Chutney, Pickles and vegetable curries too, in all fairness. On his face, guests smilingly described him as glutton, freeloader, real guest etc. In fact, Jeebu described him as a creeper. And Girdhari thought that Jeebu was actually being generous becaue Golat Babu was actually a creep ! Golat Babu laughed aloud at the guests’ remarks but kept his concentration on his many servings of Kheer, sweets, and curd and then, some more. When the guests got ready to leave, Golat Babu put a double Paan in his mouth and said loudly to the guests, yau hum khaai chhi ki ahaan khuaabaye chhi, Param Pita Parmeshwar swayam humra khuaabaye chaith (neither you feed me nor I, the God almighty himself feeds me) !       

The pedal rickshaw was waiting. Golat Babu touched Mom’s feet. She blessed him. Next, he touched Dad’s feet. Dad blessed him and took out some money from his pocket. He counted it and gave the money to Golat Babu. Golat Babu refused, Baba, four hundred rupees ! I don’t need so much money. I need to reach Patna only. Dad told him, don’t travel ticketless. You are going to Kolhabi, not Patna ! Golat Babu told Bhaiya, do well in your exams. Bhaiya looked sheepish. Golat Babu ruffled Girdhari’s hair and sat in the waiting rickshaw. 

I was working on the laptop, the doorbell rang. I opened the door. A young man, in his twenties, was standing there. He touched my feet and said, I’m Swayambhu and I have joined a bank as an officer yesterday in Vile Parle west. I took him in but I had difficulty in placing him. He smiled and said, Golat Babu is my father ! And how is Golat Babu and your mother, I asked. He replied, father passed away three years back but Maa is in good health, at Kolhabi. I was at a loss of words at the revelation. Swayambhu looked at me and said, my late father never forgot that you broke your piggy bank and gave him all of one hundred and sixty rupees to buy extra books for Didi and me ! 

God Lights A Lamp In Their Lives !

Photo by Aditya Siva on Unsplash

Those eyes were looking at his tiffin box, now. Girdhari looked at the boy again. Both of them were of the same age. As soon as Girdhari opened his tiffin box to offer the contents to the boy, he stopped. A little girl came running and stood in front of Girdhari. The little girl opened her dupatta and cupped it. Girdhari put the Pooris, mango pickle and fried potatoes in her dupatta. Girdhari asked them about their home. The boy said that they were from a village near Bolpur. Both their parents were making this community centre. Both the brother and sister were happily eating Girdhari’s tiffin now. Girdhari asked the boy if his parents were engineers. The little girl laughed like never before. She said, taraa shromik (they are labourers) ! The boy took a bite of pickle and asked Girdhari where he was off to. He replied, school. The boy didn’t understand, SCHOOL… !  What’s that ? Girdhari said that school is a house where several students were taught by their teachers, in order to make them doctors, engineers or D M in future ! The brother-sister duo started smiling, good riddance, we’re better off without going to that damn school ! Girdhari got up and left for his school. Girdhari was thinking about the labourers’ children’s aversion to school. And what would happen of them when they grew up ? All these questions were answered in great detail by God’s own angel who runs an NGO, Diya Ghar in Bangalore for migrants’ children. Dear reader, over to Saraswathi Padmanabhan !     

Saraswathi remembers fondly, I grew up in Chennai. I was a very studious student in school. I played Basket-Ball. I was part of NCC. My first job was in Mumbai. I lived in Colaba, worked in Nariman Point. I started to work with street children. My M Sc degree is in Finance from BITS Pilani. It was an open environment with lots of flexibilities in attendance, choice of subjects etc. After my marriage, I went to California (USA) to study MBA. I did my MBA in accounting from California State University from East Bay. While I was working in California as an auditor, I was also volunteering with children of prisoners. Wherever I was, I was always looking for opportunities to work with children.

Parents are First set of Teachers : My parent are doctors. Our parents used to take us to Children’s Home for our birthdays to distribute sweets and snacks. That memory stayed with me, forever. My parents helped many, many families. They were very generous. That had a strong impression on my life. 

Swades Calling : In California, we felt that God was calling us to come back to India, to Bangalore in particular, to work with communities. It took us two years to wind up and come back here. I was looking for what skills to acquire, in order to work with communities. I met a wonderful counsellor here. And I thought, this is a good skill to learn, it will be helpful. So, I studied counselling. I worked in an NGO for a year. It was an adoption agency. Later, I started teaching counselling, part time, in a college. 

How Diya Ghar took shape : We were living in a place in Bangalore where there were migrants, right behind my husband’s office complex. So, we used to go there on weekends, just to engage with the children. We really felt drawn to the children of the migrant labourers. We often used to see these children, playing near construction sites or sometimes on the construction site, itself. And we really wanted to do something for them. I decided that when my youngest daughter turns six, I will start something. I did my Montessori training in 2016 and then started Diya Ghar.

Montessori education, for kids, is the need of the hour : In Montessori system, we believe each child is unique, each child learns at their own pace and so the system is designed to enable that. We encourage the children to learn by doing and not by hearing what the teacher says. Learning is done by all the five senses. Lot of independence is given to the child, to choose what they want to learn. Therefore they learn very well because they are doing it out of their own interest. 

Kids after Diya Ghar : We help them enrol in classrooms. Some of the families wanted their kids to go to an English medium school. We helped them get into these schools close to their places, partly paid their fees as well. 

The real support : My husband, Shyamal and myself started it together. He is a software engineer, he runs a start up. He helps with strategy and planning. 

Funding of Diya Ghar : Initially, we used our personal finances. People are really generous. Friends on Facebook wrote to us that they wish to help. A large part of the donations comes from individuals. We have thousand eight hundred individual donors. We have a few CSR’s as well with the corporates. 

Corona Times : We distributed 46,500 dry ration kits, during the lockdown, amongst these communities.    

Teething troubles : Finding teachers !!! The problem was, we were not just looking for teachers but the teachers, who would work with the under privileged children. As we used to bring children, give them bath, uniform, food, have classes for them and dropped them back at home. So, we wanted not just a teacher but somebody who would work with the community itself. In the beginning, I was the only teacher for one full academic year ! The other challenge was gaining trust in the community. So, we always had our centres, close to the community. We wanted that contact with the community and we always wanted them to come in.

An NGO : I would say, start small. Don’t try to figure out everything and get overwhelmed. Take one step and things will fall into place. 

Proud Moment : In June or July this year, I had taken my kids for a drive after several months of complete lockdown due to Corona pandemic. We were driving through an area when we saw lots of children there. I reminded my children that previous week they had gone there, to distribute relief. My son said, this is the amount that I have with me as my pocket money. I want to give this for milk and eggs for these children ! 

Favourite Gyaan :  I believe, God has created us and wants us to live our lives in abundance. We should have a meaningful life and make it enjoyable for others around us too. 

I too have a Dream : Taking Diya Ghar across the city of Bangalore. And, then to other cities of India with similar needs. 

Favourite Quote : Expect great things from God, attempt great things from God – William Carey

Batchmates from BITS Pilani and California MBA school :  They say, you are doing something to help others. You had lots of guts to do it !

Saraswathi’s Favourites Sutra :

Favourite Colours : Black, Purple, Pink

Favourite Season : Winter – I don’t like hot weather, Summer for Mangoes only

Favourite Author : John Ortberg

Favourite Destination : Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu), California (USA)

Favourite Hobbies : Reading, Running 

Favourite Dish : Curd Rice – My comfort food ! 

Favourite Songs : Christian Worship Songs 

Favourite Natural Surrounding : The Beaches !

Talks Delivered at : St Joseph’s College, Bangalore, Canadian International School, Bangalore, Anthea Montessori School, Hyderabad

Award received : 2019 Karnataka CSR Award  

Saraswathi Padmanabhan

Contact Details of Saraswathi Padmanabhan :

Email :  saraswathi@diyaghar.org

Website :  www.diyaghar.org

Mobile No : +91 99450 32484

LinkedIn Link : https://www.linkedin.com/in/saraswathi-padmanabhan-7925348

Facebook Link : facebook.com/diyaghar, facebook.com./

Instagram Link : DiyaGhar, SaraswathiPadmanabhan

Dear reader, can you believe that for the last four years, Diya Ghar has been changing the lives of the migrant community in Bangalore by providing pre-school education for children of labourers in a nurturing environment. Along with the foundational Montessori education, these children are given two wholesome meals a day and safe transport from their settlements to school and back. So far, 400 little ones have “graduated” from Diya Ghar and joined elementary schools in Bangalore or schools back in their villages. If one wishes to see a child light up a room with his smile, help pours in from unexpected quarters !

Bulimia Blues

Photo by Dipesh Gurav on Unsplash

Crunch, crunch.. Kardantu was tasting heavenly. Crunch, crunch.. I took another bite of it. I noticed a pair of eyes was watching me, curiously. Just then the house help brought in a tray of Kalbutthi. The aroma coming out of this curd rice sizzler was irresistible. Vari (Varijashree) was about to say something but stopped. I picked up a ball of Ragi Mudde, dipped it in Kannekudi Khatne and took a bite. Delicious, isn’t it, asked Vari while leaving the room. I noticed the array of dishes kept on the dining table by Mr. and Mrs. Hebbar. Appekayi Trroin, Jolada Rotis, Akki Rotis, Berki Rotis, Uggi Chapati, Dapatis, Bisi Bele Bhath, Enne Gai, Saagu, Mandige, Halasina Yele Chilmi, Malpuri. I ate like a pig as never before. Sabina said, Vari has arranged ChholeBhature also for you. Who cares, yaar. I also don’t know what is the feast for, I said. Its some bad phase gibberish of seven and a half years in Vari’s horoscope that has got over and her parents are over the moon, replied Sabina. Dipsy woke up, aww really, what other such phases are there in her horoscope ? Vari arrived, guys, try Appekayi Trroin, it’ll put you to sleep. Girdhari, are you fine ? If you want to lie down, you can… I looked at her in trance, Vari looked ravishing. How could I tell her that I’d eaten so much that I felt like a python who is resting after swallowing a deer ! I was getting submerged in the gulf of guilt.. Why did I eat so much.. What the guests must be thinking of me. And, poor Hebbars, I gave them a nasty scare by finishing food meant for five people, all alone ! I got up and sprinted towards the washroom. I put two fingers in my mouth and..  The whole thing gushed out of my mouth like a volcano !

Photo by Manuswath K B on Unsplash

All of us were sitting at Sunset Boulevard restaurant. We were having spaghetti, pasta, croissants and field roast frankfurters with coffee and lemonade. Dipsy looked at me. I swear, Girdhari, you got kinda weird taste in flicks. We should have watched True Lies, at least Arnie does some action, man !  Vari said, no yaar, I loved Tom… Forrest Gump is really epic ! She looked at me. I was busy eating and didn’t want to get involved in the post viewing debate. Vari added, guys, let’s go to Copper Chimney for lunch. Sabina said, come on Vari, you are a model, you should watch it ! And poor Girdhari too needs to watch his waistline. Look at his swollen cheeks and droopy shoulders. I said, I’m neither an actor nor a model. I’m a poor copywriter and that too, a freelancer. We had Neer Dosa with Avial lunch at Copper Chimney. And again, I ate to my heart’s content. And then again Vari watched me in horror when I rushed to the washroom to throw everything out !

Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

It was 2.30 in the night. Vari was driving her Contessa from Essel studio to her house in Matunga. I was sitting half-dead on the front passenger seat. I had not taken a nap for the last ten days due to exhausting work pressures. She tapped me on my shoulder. I tried to concentrate on whatever Vari was saying. She said, listen buddy ! Please don’t mind it as I’m intruding into your private space. You know something, Girdhari. My model friends, Betty, Kalindi, Marissa all three are top models of India. And all of them are size zero. First they eat and then they puke, forcibly. That day at Copper Chimney, I knew, you needed help. Seriously, duh, I believe you should see a shrink urgently ! I reacted impulsively, paagal nahi hoon main (I’m not crazy).. But the way you and Sabina are going after me, I’m sure I’ll go mad.. Jesus, is this some kind of a joke going on here with my life… You suggesting a psychiatrist and Sabina suggesting a physician… Or both of you are working to a plan or what ? Gimme a break, Vari !

Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash

I looked at the board again. It read, Dr. Yezdi Botiwala, M.B.B.S, M.D. After waiting inside for ten minutes I was sent in. The doctor had an intimidating look, he looked like a Walrus ! Doctor asked, so what brings you here ? I replied, I’m seeking help for a model friend of mine who is suffering from Anorexia Nervosa. Doctor looked at me closely, I meet patients, not their chaperones, go send your friend in. I said, work pressure, doctor, please. Doctor mellowed, how does she know she has Anorexia ? I said, she is a he, not she. He is continuously teased by his friends for being obese though, in reality, he is not. He consumes dozens of apples and several oranges everyday in order to skip meals. I stopped to catch my breath. I’m sure he has a morbid fear of becoming fat as he purges afterwards, concluded the doctor. Yes, yes, that’s true, I concurred. Doctor hunched ahead towards me on his desk. He had all the intentions of eating me raw ! He said, listen Girdhari boy ! You gotta be honest with me with your Bulimia or else I won’t be able to help you in any which ways. I can’t even forego my fees, young man, okay ! I smiled wryly as I was done and dusted, for the day !  

Photo by Mukul Ranjan

All my friends were in my Bandra pad. Nacy, Prakash, Vari, Sabina, Dipsy, Winston, everybody was there. Everybody started getting the vessels and bowls in the living room for dinner. I had cooked everything myself. There were Pooris, Aloo Dum, Tahiri, Dahi Vadas, Baigan Bhurta, Daal Tadka, Bhaat and Malpuas. The feast was on. I was hardly eating. Sabina noticed it, smart girl that she is. So Girdhari, are you fasting, she asked. Vari was curious, so what worked, medicines or meditation for your Bulimia, Girdhari ? My self – belief plus I raised my self-esteem, I replied, but the damn thing took fourteen precious months to leave me. Dipsy was mean, Girdhari, give some credit to your luck, dude ! You are in the august company of celebrities like Princess Diana, Jane Fonda, Paula Abdul, Elton John, David Coulthard, Shane Dawson, Freddie Flintoff ! I replied, now my food, fun, feast and frankfurters remain mine. Buck off Bulimia and buck off, Dipsy, will you !  

Photo by Mukul Ranjan

 

 

Ventriloquism Is To The Ears What Magic Is To The Eyes !

Photo by Satyajit Padhye

The curtain was rising up while the music being played by the orchestra was reaching its crescendo. Everybody was waiting with bated breath. And that included him too. Girdhari, out of excitement, was standing on his chair. And the wait got over. The three musketeers entered in the arena. Rapturous laughter went into the crowd with cries of Joker aaya, Joker (Joker has arrived) ! And the three jokers got into the act quickly. One of them was juggling rings, hats and other objects while the other two were enacting comical act. The show was on at Gemini circus. The third joker said something aloud when the second joker hit his legs with a stick. The third joker laughed and the audience started laughing. Girdhari was surprised. When teacher in school hit students with sticks it hurt badly. And here everybody was laughing his guts out, strange ! The annual fair was a big attraction for Girdhari and his friends. A visit to the circus and the magic show was a must. It intrigued him then and it intrigues him now to get into the magical zone of these magicians and great performers. Dear reader, over to the legend of ventriloquism, Ramdas Yeshwant Padhye and his son, ace ventriloquist, Satyajit Ramdas Padhye who have mastered a tough art, skilfully ! 

Ramdas Padhye with Satyajit Padhye Photo by Satyajit Padhye
Photo by Satyajit Padhye

Pioneer Indian Ventriloquist – Yeshwant Keshav Padhye : Ramdas Padhye speaks fondly about his father. He says, my father, Y K Padhye was originally a magician. In the initial stages he used to perform with the help of two small masks while talking to audience. In 1916-17 during the first world war, he saw a soldier performing ventriloquism in India. After that he thought a full length puppet is more impressive than the mask. He bought the first puppet from England’s Davenport company. That was the English set up, of course, naturally. He changed the puppet entirely with the Indian costumes, Indian hair style and named him, Ardhavatrao (half mad). For English performance the puppet was named, Mr. Crazy ! That dummy, Ardhavatrao aka Mr. Crazy has completed 103 years now ! There are 100 years old puppets abroad too, but kept safely in museums. This is the only centurion puppet which is still performing, on stage ! 

Photo by Satyajit Padhye

Success is watching You through the Grind : Ramdas Padhye talks about his initial days. He says, I used to perform at five star hotels and various clubs with my puppet. That night I was performing at Juhu’s Sun N Sand Hotel. Lots of foreigners were watching my act. When my act got over, a foreigner offered me his card. After 3 and a half months I got a letter from that American gentleman. He wanted the two of us to travel to America. In 1971, I performed everywhere in India to raise 8 thousand rupees for two return tickets ! In America, we performed on CBS TV and appeared at some private shows regularly for three months. We were featured in prominent American newspapers. I was the first Indian to perform on CBS TV in America ! Back in India, I started performing on Doordarshan and my career got a boost like anything. 

Photo by Satyajit Padhye

Kurram Kurram Lijjat Ad : Ramdas Padhye remembers, Lijjat guys called me for a different kind of ad. I asked for 2 days time. When I met them in their Bandra office, I told them that I’d created a new rabbit puppet. To create that rabbit laughter, I had to spend two days practising it. And this happens when you’re passionate about your craft. 

Ramdas Padhye’s Favourite Ventriloquist & Puppeteer : Edgar Bergen and his puppet, Charlie McCarthy – He is a master ventriloquist. And my idol Puppeteer is Helen Jean Hansen. 

Satyajit’s memorable performance : I was in seventh standard in I E S modern English school, Dadar. I designed a Pink Panther puppet, wrote script and performed. My parents were the chief guests of this function. It was my first public performance !      

Satyajit decodes Ventriloquism adjectives :

Ventriloquism : Its the art of throwing your voice and creating an illusion that it is coming from some other place. 

Photo by Satyajit Padhye

Dummy : A ventriloquist’s puppet or doll. In ventriloquism, you call it a dummy.  

Sound Illusion : A ventriloquist needs to have a voice for the puppet that is different from his own voice. So that is a sound illusion. And a viewer can’t distinguish the source of the sound.

Voice Technique : It is the technique to produce different voices during the act. 

French Black Light Puppetry : It is a technique where there is Ultra Violet light against a black background, the puppets glow in the dark and puppeteers wear black costumes with black hood. So only the puppets are visible, not the puppeteers. 

Photo by Satyajit Padhye

Satyajit’s  Favourite Sutra :

Favourite Colour : Black, blue and white – They make me look good.

Favourite Season : Winter – Weather is good, its nice and cosy. 

Favourite Author : P L Deshpande – His humour is different but relatable.

Favourite Destination : Jammu and Kashmir in India / America – Because they go ga ga over ventriloquism !

Photo by Satyajit Padhye

Favourite Hobbies : Painting, watching comedy and TV shows

Favourite Dishes : Home made food – Pao Bhaji made by Mom

Favourite Singers : Lata Mangeshkar, Kishor Kumar 

Photo by Satyajit Padhye

Favourite Actor : Amitabh Bachchan – Who doesn’t love him !

Favourite Natural Surroundings : Mountains – There is greenery which is very peaceful to your eyes.

Favourite Quote : If you can imagine, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it –  William Arthur Ward              

Favourite Ventriloquists : Jeff Dunham – He gave a breath of fresh air through his viral video on ventriloquism / Terry Fator / Darci Lynne –  She won America’s got talent in 2017 

Favourite Funda : Energy, passion and dedication has to be the same for all my performances irrespective of whether I’m going to be paid for it or not. 

Who is whose Fan : When I perform in front of Mr. Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan and Salman Khan on national television my art form gets mega exposure. People immediately come to know about the art form. 

Photo by Satyajit Padhye

Favourite Gyaan : Whatever you feel is right, do it with all the passion that you have and success will come to you ! Hardwork and consistency is the real driver !

Too Funny : Once I was performing in the interiors of Maharashtra. Before the end of the show as part of the dialogue, a puppet said, I’m hungry. A small boy came and offered biscuits to the puppet !

Favourite Mantra : The art of my craft is to touch the soul.

Can a Plant grow under a huge Banyan tree : That depends on the plant, actually. Right from my childhood, I was assisting my father but India’s Got Talent in 2009 gave me my own identity. Now people know about me, individually. 

Photo by Satyajit Padhye

Good Night Baby Dino : This mega puppet play with 100 puppets was directed by Bharat Dabholkar. This was done when Hollywood movie, Jurassic Park had released. The Dinosaurs in that movie were really scary. The brief for this play was to make these Dinosaurs really adorable for the little kids. 

Photo by PINKVILLA

On LUDO experience : Mr Anurag Basu told me to train Aditya Roy Kapoor in 2-3 days for his character. Aditya was insistent that he wanted to do it properly so we ended up training for 10-15 days. We tried 3 D scanning and 3D printing to design Aditya’s alter ego puppet. Ludo is the first Hindi movie to have this technique. 

AI (Artificial Intelligence) in Puppetry : We have lots of puppet maker friends in America. One of them showed us one AI puppet which talks when you ask it, just like Alexa ! Imagine, tomorrow you go to a restaurant and you see a Puppet. You ask him and he replies to you !

Photo by Satyajit Padhye

Proud moment as an Indian : It was like an Olympics ceremony at UNIMA World Puppetry Carnival in Chengdu, China in 2012. There were hundreds of puppeteers from so many countries. We performed there in Mandarin language. It was a humbling moment for me as an Indian ! 

Rujuta Padhye with Satyajit Photo by Satyajit Padhye

What romance means to Satyajit : Connecting with each other, understanding each other !

Best Compliment for Ramdas Padhye : We were performing in Russia in Russian language with this 100 years old puppet. A 90 years old lady got up crying and told me in Russian, oh my brother ! I got inspiration from you. Now I’ll also celebrate my 100th birthday !   

Best Compliment for Satyajit : People offer their suggestions on my act. Positive criticism is also very necessary !

The Ventriloquist Talks delivered at :

Satyajit at TEDx BitsPilani / Ramdas Padhye on The art of Ventriloquist at Vent Haven Convention amongst others

Books Authored by Ramdas Padhye :

INNER VOICE

Bolvita Dhani in Marathi

Satyajit Ramdas Padhye

Contact Details of Satyajit Ramdas Padhye

Cell : +91-9820683852 Landline : +91-22-25060079

Websites : www.satyajitpadhye.com 

www.vpuppets.com

Twitter : https://twitter.com/satyajitpadhye?lang=en

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/SatyajitPadhyePage/

https://www.facebook.com/Ramdas.Padhye/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/satyajitpadhye/?hl=en

Photo by Satyajit Padhye

Good education can be the launch pad for a good life. The Padhyes are a well to do family. Y K Padhye told Ramdas Padhye that his education was extremely important as education reflects in your art. No wonder, Ramdas Padhye did B Sc in Mathematics and finished his mechanical engineering course. Satyajit is a qualified Chartered Accountant. He took a professional degree as a fallback option. Satyajit believes that if father is successful, it doesn’t mean the son also will be successful. Everybody has to go through the grind to earn the accolades and smiles !  

Ramdas Padhye with grand daughter Reeva and puppet, Mr. Crazy Photo by Satyajit Padhye

Aquaponics Is The Future Of Agriculture !

Pakchoy

Neigh.. neigh.. neigh.. The band of horses were moving with great force. Clop.. clop ..clop… The sound of their hooves hitting the dirt road was unmissable. The race was on. Jarnail (Major General) and his band of Sowars (Cavalry) had no time to rest. Ahead of this group was another group of Sowars, the marauders and the mugals, running for their lives. They wanted to cross the Sutlej river near Shahkot, desperately. Jarnail had to take the revenge. Clop..clop..clop.. The horses were getting tired now. Boom.. boom..boom.. The group of mugal mercenaries came under fire from Jarnail’s Topchi (Artillery). Zzzz.. zzzz.. zzzz.. Daadi (father’s mother) was dozing now. The five years old boy looked at his Daadi, incredulously. Behind her head, full moon was looking pure in resplendent glory. She was sleeping peacefully. The boy got up from his cot on the terrace and looked around and down. Inside the fort near Phillour, in Punjab, a Mashaalchi (Lightman) was lighting up a mashaal (torch). The small boy felt cheated. He saw other mashalchis lighting up mashaals in different corners of his fort. He sat back on his cot and started howling. A startled Daadi noticed that fresh cow’s milk with foam on top, in a silver bowl, was left untouched. Daadi asked the boy, why are you crying, Satwant ? And why haven’t you finished the milk ? Satwant was still crying. He said, Daadi, I want the moon, the stars, the sky, all of them. I want to own all of them ! Daadi smiled, and Jarnail story ? Satwant said, I remember this story, word by word. Jarnail and his army will defeat the mugals on the banks of Sutlej at Shahkot by cannon fire. Daadi, give me moon and the stars, now or else… Daadi took Satwant in her lap, lovingly. She told her little grandson, be thankful for what you have, Satwant. Because several others don’t even have anything, at all ! Dear reader, over to the power couple of Goa and modern farmers in truest sense who are seriously pursuing their goal of Aquaponics for all – Peter Satwant Singh and Neeno Kaur !    

Peter Singh says, I was born and brought up on an old family farm in a village and we had a fort which goes back to Sikh history where we maintained an army. I grew up in a boarding school. Lawrence School, Sanawar was very disciplinarian. Later I joined St. Stephen’s college and studied Mathematics. Neeno is from Army background. She did her Bachelors degree from Sacred Heart College, Dalhousie.

2 Farmers get going :

After Peter Singh and Neeno Kaur got married in 1973, they transformed their family orchard in Punjab into a diversified farm with timber, multilevel orchard trees, dairying with high yielding cows and beekeeping. Both of them have always been interested in organic agriculture, organic food. Due to health issues in the year 2000, they gave up traditional farming and the bee project. 

Asian Sea Bass (Chonak) Fish

Fast Forward to Aquaponics :

Organic farming in Dehi urban setting was not easy at all due to space crunch and limited water supply. In 2015 Peter Singh was introduced to Aquaponics which in reality is another system of agriculture. In their Goa home, on 185 square meters of terrace garden and greenhouse, they produce 120 kg (kilograms) of fish annually and have in total, 3000 plants of vegetables and fruits ! 

Neeno Kaur and Peter Singh Decode Aquaponics Adjectives :

Aquaponics : Aquaponics is keeping fish in the tank, feeding the fish, circulating the water from the tank to our filtration system where ammonia and waste of fish is converted to nitrates and nitrites. The plants clean the water and take nutrients from the water and the water goes back to the fish. 

Aeroponic Tower : These are vertical pipes in which plants are put into the sides of the pipes. And water flows from top through the pipe. As it is flowing down it picks up air also. And the roots are hanging inside the tower.  

Media Bed : In media bed you put inert material like gravel to anchor the roots and the water flows into the media bed and it flows out.

NFT Pipes : Nutrient Film Technology – these are horizontal pipes in which holes are cut on top in which pots are there. The water flows through the roots in the pipe. And the plant grows outside.  

Deep Water Raft Trays : Standing water is 6 to 8 inches high. On top of that, you put a piece of board, make holes and put pots with plants in it. The aquaponic water flows continuously through that with roots of the plants taking the nutrients from water.  

Dutch Buckets : These are large containers in which you can grow fruit trees and deep rooted vegetables. And the water fed to them is through drip irrigation.

Aquaponics is the future of agriculture, really : Peter Singh says Aquaponics is sustainable. It does not use any chemicals. It uses vertical space as well as horizontal space. And it uses only 10% of water compared to traditional farming !  

A Mathematician is a Magician : Peter Singh says matter of factly, a mathematician can do anything. Mathematics teaches you logic. It teaches you reasoning. I like logical thinking.

Mint Swiss Chard and the Cucurbits in NFT Pipes

This is Funny : Neeno Kaur – Peter thinks he is 20 years old. He was making the greenhouse which is a sloping roof. He slipped and fell, his finger literally chopped off. Luckily he broke nothing.  

A Sanawarian as a Farmer : Peter Singh smiles and says, my friends from Lawrence School, Sanawar are quite zapped by my journey. They say, its really amazing. And they feel, we are doing tremendous stuff !

Peter Singh, actually : Peter Singh explains the story behind his name. I was born in 1945 and I was named Satwant Singh. My Nanaji (mother’s father) had participated in first and second world wars. Nanaji told my parents that I am going to call him Peter !

Neeno Kaur and Peter Singh’s Favourites Sutra :

Favourite Colours : Peter Singh – Red, Pink, Blue, Yellow. The problem with me as a Sardar is, I love coloured turbans and then you have to have a matching shirt, of course.

Neeno Kaur – I like bright colours too. Its cheerful. Red, Green, Yellow !

Favourite Season : Peter Singh – Spring – when the flowers are out and the garden is beautiful.

Neeno Kaur – Spring because flowers are out. I love flowers !

Favourite Books/Author : Peter Singh – Isaac Asimov, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Friedrich Nietzsche, Bertrand Russel, Arthur C. Clarke

Neeno Kaur – Japanese writers, African writers, South American writers. Guy de Maupassant was a brilliant writer. Haruki Murakami is very good.

Favourite Destination : Peter Singh – London and its countryside – Lots of our uncles, aunts and cousins are there in Cornwall, Wales and Scotland. 

Neeno Kaur – Europe for its culture, its history, its museums and England, in particular for its scenery.

Cucumbers

Favourite Hobbies : Peter Singh – Learning something new. I like to work with my hands. Electronics, Computers, Reading, Mathematics, Cooking, 

Neeno Kaur – Reading, Gardening, Growing things, Cooking

Favourite Song/Singer/Music : Peter Singh – Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Ustad Vilayat Khan, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Kishori Amonkar, the Dagar brothers, Western Classical Music, Shabad, Avtar Singh and his sons rendition of Guru Granth Sahib in original Raags

Neeno Kaur – Western Classical Music, Indian Classical music, Bhimsen Joshi, Ustad Vilayat Khan

Favourite Movies/Actors : Neeno Kaur – Film Festival films, Movies with substance 

Peter Singh – Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn, Rock Hudson, Award winning films, Kurosawa’s films are simply brilliant !

Favourite Natural Surroundings : Peter Singh – Mountains – I was in Lawrence school, Sanawar, near Kasauli.

Neeno Kaur – Sea – To swim in the sea is such a beautiful experience.  

Favourite Quote : Peter Singh – Ikko sach hai, Jeena te marna (From Guru Granth Sahib). In a nutshell, it means, don’t cry about the past and don’t think about the future. If I waste my today in yesterday and tomorrow then I’m not living.

Favourite Gyaan : Peter Singh – Guru Nanak said, I don’t put anything in my mouth that harms my body. And I don’t put thoughts into my brain that harms my brain ! 

Neeno Kaur – People with negativity pull you down. So, be positive and to also connect with people who are positive !

Message to Gen Next : Neeno Kaur – Follow your heart with discipline !

Peter Singh – Do something that you are good at, trust me, you’ll enjoy it ! 

Peter Singh and Neeno Kaur as Authors :

Survey of the Honey Industry

Beekeeping in India

Do in Goa as Goans do : Neeno Kaur says, in Goa, here everywhere, they play music from sixties. So we learnt ballroom dancing. We dance Cha Cha, Foxtrot !  

Best Compliment : Peter Singh – One person said to us, after meeting you and seeing what you are doing, you are an inspiration to others !

Neeno Kaur – Since we are doing online courses in Aquaponics, a gentleman called from Vishakhapattanam said, doing this Aquaponics course has brought me and my wife together ! 

Message to you, dear reader : Peter Singh  – Sustainability. Please try to live an organic sustainable life.

Neeno Kaur – We cannot expect the government to take charge of our household waste and garbage.

Contact Details of Peter Satwant Singh and Neeno Kaur :

Mobile Number : +91 95994 43202

E-mail : aanantaquaponics@gmail.com

Freshly picked Aquaponic bounty

Peter Singh and Neeno Kaur are patience personified. Peter Singh says, you have to give time to your children. We never exposed our children to junk reading, junk food or even comics. Neeno Kaur adds, and you must give values to your children. In their Dona Paula home in Goa, babies of another kind try this energetic couple’s patience, literally. Peter Singh takes care of designing, planning and running the system. And no prizes for guessing, dear reader, Neeno Kaur looks after the seeds, saplings, plants and vegetables. Any wonders, why both of them believe in doing meaningful activity and being happy, forever ! 

You Are The Fairy Tale Told By Your Ancestors !

Bhagwaan Chitragupt Photo by Mukul Ranjan

All of them were waiting for the man of the house. The photo frame of Bhagwaan (God) Chitragupt was rightly placed, on top of the table. Bhagwaan was there, with his eight sons on one side and four sons on another side. Bhaiya had stacked Dad’s book, his own book, Didi’s book, Girdhari’s book, some notebooks, some fountain pens, pencils and an ink pot in front of Bhagwaan‘s photo frame. A fresh sheet of plain white paper with a red fountain pen, on top, was ready. Mom was arranging the Deeya (little lamp) for the umpteenth time. Didi was arranging the prasaad of Motichoor Laddus (sweets) on top of the fruit pieces. Girdhari’s only interest was to finish off some of those Laddus. Dad arrived dressed in crisp silken Kurta and Dhoti. He began the Puja (worship). After his Puja was over it was Bhaiya’s turn. Dad came to the white sheet of paper. He wrote Om Namah Shivaay in Hindi on the left and his own name in Hindi on the right side of the white paper. Girdhari sighed with a yawn. Gosh, these guys were taking ages to finish the Puja. Girdhari’s eyes were closed in boredom when Mom put two Laddus in his palm. Girdhari ran away happily and picked up his favourite, Bahadur comics. He was reading it when Dad arrived. Dad said, today we have done Chitragupt Puja (also called Kalam Dawaat Puja) and today we are not supposed to read or write anything. Today is our off day, Girdhari. Remember, we are Kayasths !

Photo by Luana Azevedo on Unsplash

Kayasth community is spread in India, Nepal and all around the globe. Do you know, dear reader, Kayasth community is the only community in India that has a script named after it – KAITHI ! This script which was also called, Kayasthi or Kayathi was used from sixteenth century till British times, in whole of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand. In fact, it was the official script of district courts in Bihar till 1954. Kayasth community is, probably, the only community in India that worships its ancestor. As Indonesian author, Toba Beta said, you are the fairy tale told by your ancestors ! Kayasths are probably the only ‘ancestor worshipping community’ amongst Sanatan Hindus. But, who really, are these Kayasths ?  

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Till 9th century in India, heresay apart, professions were interchangeable and not hereditary. It means, a temple priest’s son could become a warrior and a trader’s son could become a hunter. Marriages were allowed liberally across various communities. And, caste system was flexible and not rigid, as it turned later, in the 10th century. New kingdoms were being founded and new cities were getting created. A new community of village accountants and city accountants, started taking shape. In ancient texts, its mentioned that Kayasth is a Lekhak (writer), and a Ganak (accountant). This community worked in tandem with various kingdoms’ bureaucracy. Karuneegar is a caste spread across states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. Karuneegar means ‘accountant’ in Tamil language. Purkayastha is a popular surname in Assam. Here, ‘pur’ means city or village and ‘Kayastha’ means administrator. Well then, Purkayastha is, so to speak, a city administrator. Kayasth community lays a lot of emphasis on education. They always learnt the prevalent court language, be it Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic or English to help the rulers. And, they also ensured, their children learnt these court languages as well. So gradually, that weaver’s son who became a village accountant as well as that warrior’s son who joined as a bureaucrat in empire’s capital became a ‘Kayasth’ and stayed in the ‘Kayasth community’. By 11th century, the professions started getting hereditary, caste and clan lines faded into ironclad walls and, no surprises here, the Kayasth community started growing rapidly, by leaps and bounds. In Bhagwaan Chitragupt’s photos, he is always shown with his twelve sons. Most of the Kayasths today, connect themselves with, one son of Bhagwaan Chitragupt or the other !

Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

Kayasths in Maharashtra, call themselves, Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu (CKP). They believe, they migrated from Kashmir around 9th century, to Konkan, Maharashtra and Goa. They use surnames like Bendre, Chitnis, Jaywant, Deshpande, Thakre, Mokashi amongst several others. Kayasths in UP, Chhattisgarh, MP, Jharkhand, Delhi, Bihar and Nepal have surnames as Shrivastava, Ambasth, Khare, Nigam, Kulshresth, Mathur, Das, Sahay, Karn, Kochargawe, Kanth, Saxena, Bhatnagar, Malla, Kayastha amongst others. Ghosh, Basu, Mitra, Guha, Sen, Patnaik, Karan, Mohanty, Bhuyan, Dutta-Baruah, Adhikary amongst others are some of the surnames written by Kayasths in West Bengal, Bangladesh, Odisha and Assam. Kayasths in Gujarat write their surnames as Dhruva, Mehta, Vakil etc. In Punjab, Kayasths have surnames as Dham, Nagarath, Johar, Bakshi amongst others. Kayasths in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, Kerala are famous as Karnam, Karnik, Pillai, Menon, Bandaru, Daggubati, Balaga amongst others.

Photo by Thiru N on Unsplash

Ancestral Deity of Kayasths, Bhagwaan Chitragupt has several temples in India. There is Shri Chitragupt Temple in Ujjain. Then there is Chitragupt Swamy Temple in Hyderabad. Another famous Chitragupt temple is, in Ayodhya. There is a belief that after their wedding in Mithila, when Bhagwaan Raam and his wife, Devi Sita came to Ayodhya, they worshipped Bhagwaan Chitragupt first, in Ayodhya temple. Priests in Ayodhya say, a visit to Ayodhya is incomplete without worshipping at Bhagwaan Chitragupt’s temple. Shri Chitragupt Temple in Kanchipuram (Tamil Nadu) is also, quite popular amongst devotees. And, finally, there is the famous Shri Chitragupt Adi Mandir in Patna City. Every year, the festivities double, as Chitragupt Puja and Bhai – Dooj, fall on the same day. Maverick Yogi wishes you, dear reader, Chitragupt Puja, Bhai-Dooj and a very happy Deewali !

Photo by Alexis Fauvet on Unsplash